I was born as a completely healthy baby back in Soviet Estonia. However, fate had different plans for me as rhesus conflict was discovered a day later. It would have been fine if they had found compatible blood for transfusion, but they did not. Neither did they have a car to fetch it. By the time I finally received the blood transfusion the damage to my brain was already unrecoverable. Hence, I am not able to talk nor walk; I am lacking fine motor skills.
In my childhood, I was an ordinary child and was treated as everybody else. The only difference was that I could not cope on my own. I could not walk; I could not talk, eat, drink and so on. I spent countless days in hospitals.
I started to draw at an early age with a large felt marker. I sat on the floor and leant my right arm on my knee for support. It was pretty difficult and tiresome to draw this way, as I could not avoid unintentional movements. However, I liked to draw. I drew my toys and I obviously had very vivid imagination.
Besides drawing, I liked to type on an old-fashioned typewriter. I drew pictures on it – visually attractive pictures consisting of letters and symbols. These pictures were very popular with crafters and they used them as cross stitch embroidery and knitting patterns.
As I mentioned before, as a child I tried to use my arms and fingers like everybody else until I saw a show about a person using her feet instead of her hands. I decided to try it. To my great surprise, it was so much easier to draw with a pencil between my toes! It was also easier to type and even play the piano this way. Nowadays I only use my toes. I can use a mobile phone, tablets, computers, everything!
Since I decided to use my feet my life was completely changed. I can do the things I could not do before! For me using my feet for completing different tasks is as normal as using hands for most of you.
Since September 1993, I am a member candidate of Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. This association was founded in nineteen fifty-seven to support the artists who are not able to use their hands and have to paint with their mouths or feet. The organization situated in Liechtenstein is actively publishing postcards and calendars with the works of members. It also has several branches all around the world. The number of artists belonging to this organization already exceeds eight hundred persons from all over the world. They are either permanently employed by the organization or on a scholarship. The scholarship is meant for educational purposes, buying the equipment, organizing exhibitions and also for independent living.
I like to paint the nature, water and the sea. Mainly I use oil paint. Finishing paintings might take from couple of days up to several years to complete. It all depends on the complexity of the painting as well my moods. I have had many exhibitions in Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Latvia.
Art is my job and at the same time, it is also an opportunity to share my colourful world with other people. Working with brushes soothes my soul and will help to move forward with life even more positive.
Besides painting, I am a very active computer user. Although I have been learning it all by myself, I know several programming languages; have my own server and a telnet based chat room. I am the official webmaster of Estonian Union of Persons with Mobility Impairment. Recently, I graduated from Tallinn Technical University’s THINK program, an Internet based study program. Thanks to the computers, I can communicate with other people with no difficulties, send e-mails, and learn through the Internet.
So much about my different jobs. However, believe or not, I have many hobbies too!
I like to practice line-dance in my wheelchair. I am a member of Estonian line-dance group “Silver Wheels”. In the line-dance competition of 2012 in Lithuania, Trakai, I won the third place.
I also had a weekly radio show, which I hosted with the help of text-to-speech system. This is unique in the entire world, because I do not know that anyone else who makes the radio shows that way. I have done many interviews with different artists, scientists and musicians. My recurring theme in shows is disabled people and their problems in Estonia.
I love my life and I do not complain. Life is unique and it must be lived well.
It does not matter to me that I cannot dig the land nor weld, but I can manage computers and add some colour to the world. This way I am useful to the society.
I am an incurable optimist and I am not afraid of difficulties. I do not tolerate people who are whining.
Life is for living, not complaining!